Speaker gives tips on how to make lasting friendships

Dr. Kaczor "Friendship and Happiness" Lecture. File Photo.

By Madalyn Watson | Reporter

As the school year begins, new students are searching for friend groups and returning students are making new friends. Professor Christopher Kaczor from Loyola Marymount University visited Baylor on Thursday to lecture on Friendships and Happiness: Insights from Aristotle, Aquinas and Contemporary Psychology. At 4 p.m., students gathered in the Alexander Reading room to hear his analysis on the different kinds of friendships and to join him for a reception after the seminar.

Dr. Thomas Ward, assistant professor of philosophy, introduced Kaczor. Ward had worked with him at Loyola Marymount University before coming to teach at Baylor.

“On a personal note, I was Chris’s colleague for five years when I was at the Loyola Marymount University where I saw, first hand, the bold yet gentle spirit with which Chris witnessed to the truth about faith to students, to colleagues, and to administrators sometimes at personal risk. He was also a wonderful mentor and a friend to me,” Ward said.

Kaczor began the lecture by comparing Aristotle’s view of friendship to our modern day view that he said has been affected by modern technologies like the Internet and social media. He said the type of friendship Aristotle wrote about was the type of friendship people have with their closest friends.

“A real friend is someone who has goodwill for you. And Aristotle says, good will for your own sake. That is to say that it’s not just that your friend does nice things for you, but he does nice things for your own good,” Kaczor said.

Kaczor explained Aristotle’s three kinds of friendships: based on pleasure, based on utility and based on virtues.

“I was the second guy in my high school class to get my license and a car, and I was so happy. Sophomore year was great, I was driving all these people around and they’d call me up ‘Hey Kaczor, let’s go to the arboretum. Hey Kaczor there’s this party,’” Kaczor said.

Kaczor said when all the other students turned 16 and got their licenses and their own cars, they stopped spending time with him. He used this as an example of a friendship based on utility because once these ‘friends’ no longer needed him, they were gone.

He said a friendship based on pleasure tends not to last very long. For instance, a friendship based on pleasure can change as a person ages because what they find pleasurable changes.

According to Aristotle, the four main virtues are courage, practical wisdom, temperance and justice. A friendship that embodies all of these virtues is a true, long-lasting and virtuous friendship.

“If you love someone because of who they are, because of their character, that is going to be a very long-lasting and solid kind of love,” Kaczor said.

Contrary to Aristotle’s idea of friendship, Aquinas believed that there was a fourth kind of friendship — a friendship with God, called a friendship of infused virtue.

“God always had goodwill for us, so that part is always met, and we can have goodwill back for God. We can have shared activity with God,” Kaczor said. “The Christian God is a God that is loving human beings, right? That is doing good things in the world. And we can share in that activity.”

Kaczor agreed with Aristotle that bad people make bad friends because of their lack of the four virtues.

“Each one of you has immense control in terms of choosing who your friends are, and if you choose badly, your friends will influence you,” said Kaczor.

When Kaczor finished his lecture, he asked for questions from the audience. Gatesville freshman Nathanael Pickles was one of the first behind the microphone.

“You kept it somehow one-sided in how we are influenced by the friends we make and how if you’re a good friend and you have a bad friend and you end up being influenced by that bad friend, but what about the bad friend being influenced by the good friend?” asked Pickles.

Kaczor initially responds by saying that positive habits can be just as contagious as negative habits within friend groups, such as smoking or quitting smoking.

However, Kaczor warned that, “It’s very dangerous to think ‘I need to rescue this friend.’ And the reason it’s very dangerous is that there are many people who do not want to be rescued.”